If There Is Indeed A “Deep End” We’re Going Off It This Installment of New Music Tuesday Album Reviews With Recent Releases By Vacilando, Herbcraft and Wolf Eyes.
My Dad gave me an old brown belt. Before he passed, he gave away a lot of things. It wasn’t like in one of those Southern novels where the curious old man holds a free for anyone estate sale for his friends in the wake of his anticipated death. More accurately, my father just started greeting you, or your parting company, passing something across the threshold. Got to be that you expected it.
While They Were Dancing by Vacilando, with its effervescent sense of melancholy, reminds me of that old brown belt. I’ve kept it. I’ll keep the album too. The belt’s travel bare veneer and frayed edges show the wear and tear of a life well lived. One of the chief appeals is the story that opens up from the imperfections, the brilliant shine through a magnificent fade.
This may be one of the most mournfully tender records I’ve heard in some time. To name a single song, to me, seems utterly foolish (if you force me, “Tennessee Waltz” feels like the album’s real broken heart). This is a convergence, a soundtrack, the outline to an end. These seven songs display a sadness that is both protracted and deep, as honest as the earnest grief process itself. Certainly though, the Vacilandos are not mining woe for woe’s sake. Think of Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd or Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger as its analogs. This sadness is as redolent as a great album ever got. This is just as bittersweet.
For something beyond bittersweet, a bit further than simple, structured songs we find the Portland band (and by Portland, I mean, up there in Maine) Herbcraft and their decidedly strange Wot Oz one of coolest experimental albums I have heard in some time. Filled with guitar jams, laden with feedback and well crafted negative space, the six tracks explore a wild and largely unbroken terrain. However curious their structure might be, the crescendo is familiar with highlights found in the sprawling (almost ten minutes) 60’s-electro final track “Bread Don’t Rise” (which ends as though someone picked up the needle) and the vacuous, tribal psychedelic “Fit Ur-Head” which also stretches out to a few second short of twelve minutes. Vocals are sparse. When they’re there, hell, it hardly matters because they’re just another indecipherable instrument in the mix.
This album isn’t for the faint, nor the conventional tastes. Those weirdos over at the Herbcraft factory (which I imagine is colorfully painted and has a sensation room where you just go feel cool feeling stuff) drop a few discrete tracks throughout Wot Oz like the warbled piano “Au Nation” or a funky break beat experiment like “Push Through The Veil” but the shorter songs are just bitty explorations along a vast, interstellar trajectory. If you’re looking for something to push your rock boundaries into damn Fall season then this is definitely the record for you.
If Herbcraft’s sound travels through space then Detroit, Michigan’s Wolf Eyes explodes, assailing the pilot vehicle with an almost caustic, cinematically industrial sound.
Widely considered one of the greatest noise bands in the American arena, the band is so damn prolific it’s really difficult to ascertain which release their latest, I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces represents in their catalog, but it’s a hell of a lot, let’s say that much. Complete with heavily affected, chants and nonsensical spoken work lyrics, and a surrealist whirl of keyboards and clashing guitars, the record amounts to a bizarre but no less beautiful patch in what is, by nature, the uneven quilt of contemporary experimental and post rock artistry. I don’t know when I’d put Wolf Eyes on (especially in the mixed company of friendly neighbors and doe-eyed housewives) or what mood this will eventually touch, but the record is certainly not distant because that’s how it wants you to view it. I Am A Problem really is hard to grasp because it champions a difficult type music. Difficult and, as the haunted, esoteric caterwauling dies down, pretty damn rewarding.
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